Men in Lothórien: Who Escapes Her Nets?

The Rohirrim speak of Lórien with dread. Most of us remember Éomer's comment on Galadriel, "few escape her nets", because Gimli (in the books) nearly comes to blows with him over it. But it's easy to dismiss all of it as old wives' tales just as Gandalf warns not to do.

Thus Faramir to Frodo:

'The Edain, the fathers of the Númenoreans, fought besides the Elves in the first wars, and were rewarded by the gift of the kingdom in the midst of the Sea, within sight of Elvenhome. But in Middle-Earth Men and Elves became estranged in the days of darkness, by the arts of the Enemy, and by the slow changes of time in which each kind walked further down sundered roads. Men now fear and misdoubt the Elves, and yet know little of them. And we of Gondor grow like other Men, like the men of Rohan; for even they, who are foes of the Dark Lord, shun the Elves and speak of the Golden Wood with dread.
'Yet there are among us still some who have dealings with the Elves when they may, and ever and anon one will go in secret to Lórien, seldom to return. Not I. For I deem it perilous now for mortal man wilfully to seek out the Elder People. Yet I envy you that you have spoken with the White Lady.'

That can't just be talking about Aragorn/Thorongil, whose wanderings were known to Faramir's father. Faramir says men have gone on more than one occasion, and also that sometimes they come back and evidently report where they've been. It also sounds like some people within his own lifetime have gone. "Some of us still have dealings..." is present tense. Faramir can't be revealing news of Boromir's journey to Rivendell; he and Frodo were already discussing it.

This is fascinating: would Celeborn or Galadriel let men in? What sort of men?

There's precedent, of course. The refugees of Beleriand who settled in Lothórien treat it as if it were an echo of Doriath, from which most of them fled. Galadriel has taken Melian's role to protect, preserve, and hide the forest realm using Nenya to supplement her own power. And Celeborn, distinguished by counsel, wisdom, and judgement, attempts to follow Thingol. If anything Celeborn is a more careful judge of character (although wary of dwarves, at whose hands Thingol met his end). I cannot help but notice the geography of the Silverlode, a bit like the crossings of Teiglin, and that the Fellowship come in via the northwest corner, which would be the equivalent of Brethil.

Beren came in that way. Haleth's people settled there. The route from that corner to Thingol's stronghold was much the same as to Caras Galadhon, although Doriath was greater.

Celeborn and Galdriel lived in Doriath. They saw Beren. They saw Túrin. They might have witnessed Haleth's proud words to Thingol, and certainly knew her people were charged with guarding Doriath's northwest border, a duty they performed with honor while that kingdom lasted. Galadriel's brother was a devoted advocate of the Edain. Did his sister share some of his sentiments? Certainly she favors Aragorn as one worthy of Beren's heritage. And Celeborn seems to judge people impartially, when not rattled by a Balrog on his doorstep on the eve of war.

So one must speculate.

And obviously I have — that's the grounds for Haleth Fíriel's position in Not Lightly Do the Leaves of Lórien Fall. But when I started writing, I only remembered Éomer's comments, not Faramir's. Most of Gondor has come to believe as Rohan. But some, like Elendil and the Elf-friends of old in Númenor, still meet with the Galadhrim in secret.

Don't you wish Tolkien had pursued that plotline a little more?

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